When considered along with the action in the House yesterday, this leaves only the Senate Finance Committee (and, of course, junior Finance member Maria Cantwell) still trying to decide what kind of health care reform plan to propose.
Remember: five committees in the House and Senate have jurisdiction over the current health care reform push. All three House committees yesterday approved a plan the would provide near-universal coverage and a public option to compete with private insurers, among other things. Now one committee in the Senate—the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, of which Washington Senator Patty Murray is a senior member—has approved a similar plan.
As everyone waits to see what Finance (and Cantwell) will do, Murray is taking a bow:
This is a signal to the American people that we are moving full steam ahead. The bill we passed today is an historic step toward lowering-costs, guaranteeing access, and modernizing care for every American. It is also a bill that was born out of real negotiation and the inclusion of every voice on our Committee.
The rest of her statement in the jump.
What was passed today is the foundation for meaningful reform. This bill says that health care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. It focuses not just on helping people when they are sick, but also on actively keeping them healthy. It safeguards patient choice, opens the doors of coverage to those with preexisting conditions, and works to boost our long term economic strength. It protects existing coverage when it’s good, improves it when it’s not, and guarantees care for the millions who have none.
I’m particularly proud that this bill also contains a strong title on building our health care workforce. If we are going to work to ensure that all Americans have quality, affordable health care coverage, we also need to ensure there are enough health care workers to provide that care. That is why I led the committee in passing provisions that will increase the health care workforce pipeline to ensure access to doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.
We all know that our health care system is broken. Today we have put forward a major step toward fixing it. The millions of Americans who wake up every day uninsured, underinsured, or unable to afford their insurance are watching intently to see what happens next. We owe it to them to follow through.